‘Titanic’ producer Jon Landau remembered by Bill Mechanic

Veteran film executive Bill Mechanic shares some memories of producer Jon Landau, who died on July 5 at age 63, and the experiences they shared during the making of James Camerons 1997 epic Titanicwhich was backed by Fox Filmed Entertainment when Mechanic was that company’s chairman and CEO.

I always saw Jon as a natural film person. His parents, Ely and Edie, were respected producers and he knew everything there was to know about film production.

When I came to Fox, Jon was the head of production, which means he oversaw every movie we made from the studio’s perspective. It was a surprise — and a loss — to us when he left the studio to TitanicBut it was also great to know that we would have someone with so much knowledge working on a film that would be as ambitious as Jim’s film.

No one could have foreseen the difficulties that the film would bring, but even in the most difficult moments, Jon was someone we trusted absolutely. When there were discussions about how to finish the film, he mediated — to the extent possible — between the production and the studio, and again made it easier because both parties trusted that every dollar spent was in the interest of delivering something special.

Looking back at that time, those of us closest to the film believed it had a chance to be not just a hit, but something truly great. There were no guarantees, however. The stress level was excessive and there was no question that it was weighing heavily on Jon. But he never lost his sense of humor or decency, because he was a soldier. He remained confident and positive, no matter the moment, and he knew his stuff.

We’ve all had a rough journey, but it’s a statement of how good Jon was that both the studio and production felt he was the perfect person for the job. That movie required a lion, and he proved he could roar.

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